Going Through the Portal

Get ready with your Live Questions

Watch the next live hangout here on StuckInCustoms.com and you can ask questions live. There is a new function on Hangouts that lets you come in and join live and ask questions. I see them when they roll in, and I’m happy to try my best to answer them all! :)

Daily Photo – Going Through the Portal

Believe it or not, this woman was my waitress!

She brought Tom and I some richly decorated food, most of which we were not allowed to eat. It was a very strange day, actually. They invited us here for a very formal Chinese lunch, but they actually wanted me to take photos of the food, but I found her more interesting! She did end up bringing us some food we could finally eat.

Actually, she brought us some ground beef inside some bread and told us the history of the DragonLady. She went through this rich history about The DragonLady and how she got bored and decided to invent sliders. This is the short version of the story, of course! :)

Going Through the Portal

Going Through the Portal

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/15
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Towering Night Temple

The Pink Sunset in Milford

You might remember one of my favorite photos of Milford. Man, I never know if people just assume I dramatically color these things in Photoshop or not. I do unapologetically love post-processing, but that doesn’t mean that I dramatically change the colors. This is a pretty good example. This video is just a bit of b-roll while I was taking the shot… not much how-to beyond camera specs or anything… just some quick video so you can see what it looked like from another perspective!

Sunset in Milford Sound    I slept in my sleeping bag under the stars this night. It was very peaceful after seeing the pink milky sound under Mitre Peak.I took this right before I left New Zealand down in Milford Sound. I was in a bit of a hurry (you know how things get rushed before a trip), and I left the house without my tent. All I had was a sleeping bag, but it’s a good one.I slept under some trees that were tall and seemed to be leaning inwards while I looked up. Not long after that, I fell asleep…- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the entire post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Daily Photo – The Towering Night Temple

I was walking through this street with my new friends Uday Phalgun and Priscilla Dorresteijn one evening. We stopped every few buildings to take photos. The street was fairly well lit and there was quite a bit of commotion. I did my best to get long exposures that stayed quite dark so that the people were blurred out and I could keep the dark essence of the scene. I went into manual mode to accomplish this on the NEX — setting a very high aperture and a long shutter speed.

The Towering Night Temple

The Towering Night Temple

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1.6
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length11.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

Dark Street with Lanterns in China & Optometrists and Google Glass

Optometrists and Google Glass

I asked my Optometrist, Danielle Pretty, of Eyes on Ardmore ( http://eyesonardmore.co.nz/ ) in Wanaka, New Zealand, about Google Glass when I went in for a checkup. She was very excited about them – so I flipped on my android phone to make a quick video because I thought you would find her observations interesting. That strange jello-effect in the video is bc of the YouTube stabilization… I couldn’t decide if you wanted to see a shaky video or one with funky-jello. Maybe it will look cooler if you do some shrooms while watching it…

I was glad she was so excited about it… I was kind of thinking that optometrists might be a little skittish about the whole thing. Obviously, she does not represent all optometrists, but her opinion seems pretty valid and measured to me. This “Above the Horizon” thing we talk about is something that you won’t really understand until you wear them for a while. This means a lot for driving and stuff. I think people are afraid they get in the way of driving, but they don’t. I even find that maps, for example, are less distracting than looking over at your center console (or worse, what I fear most people do, looking down at your mobile phone). In fact, after a while you just stop looking at the screen as you get used to the map data hitting your retina. It’s a strange effect, but quite awesome!

New Stuck On Earth for the Mac – Wanna Test?

Wow – look at that… over 2500 pixels across or however much your Mac monitors can muster! This is the ultimate way to use the app… we’re looking for a few good testers before it is released. Hit it hard and give us your feedback!

And yes, it is already available for free on the Android and the iPad – check StuckOnEarthApp.com! :)

StuckOnEarthMac_and_Techmeme-2

Daily Photo – Dark Street with Lanterns in China

Here’s another night scene from China a few weeks ago. I’m always a sucker for these Chinese lanterns. They just always seem so authentic, even though I am sure that most of the time they are just strange anachronisms and no longer the most efficient way to light up the area. But, as far as anachronisms go, it’s one of my favorites!

Dark Street with Lanterns in China

Dark Street with Lanterns in China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time25
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

Swimming On Top of Beijing

What are these Google People Doing?!?!?

Hehe – funny conversation with a nice woman in Toronto. She saw I was wearing Glass and I told her I was recording, and then a funny conversation began!

Where do you think she is from?

Daily Photo – Swimming On Top of Beijing

I spent the morning and the night up on top of this building shooting downtown. I didn’t even realize this awesome room was here until I came down to the bathroom! So I decided to have some fun moving around and taking photos!

And yes, if you look close, you can probably see it is not really a swimming pool. The floor was super-buttery and soft. I don’t know what this room was used for. As far as I could tell, it was always empty. There were no tables or stage or anything at all… maybe the only reason it ever existed was for me to come in and take a photo of it!

Beijing

Swimming On Top of Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture9
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

In the Lama Temple

Chinese Hairdressers Prepare for Work

No text… here’s one you gotta see… I grabbed a video of it to share with you, otherwise you never would have believed me! :)

Daily Photo – In the Lama Temple

While touring one of the many temples in Beijing a few weeks ago, we went through one of them that was filled with Lamas that were busy studying. Well, most were busy studying. Others would take an occasional break, like this one who was taking a little cat nap.

Lama Temple

In the Lama Temple

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Beihei Park Island in Beijing

This Week in Tech

This was a fun episode with Leo recently. You might enjoy! :)

Daily Photo – Beihei Park Island in Beijing

It was a beautiful and still night when we arrived. This park is quite huge and it can take well over an hour to walk around the whole island, so there wasn’t a lot of time to catch a good location for the setting sun. Luckily, Tom had been to this spot before, so we were able to quickly get in position. Good sunsets are really rare in Beijing because of all the smog, but this evening came out nicely because of a strange pink-purple light that burned through the smog/fog as the sun set.

Baihei Park Island in Beijing

Beihei Park Island in Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2
  • Aperture1.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

In the Imperial Hallways

Auto-Awesome on Google+

So I went to the Chinese Acrobatic Circus and after the event, I uploaded all the photos to Google+. It was so cool to see that it made a bunch of animated GIFs automatically for me. See the whole album here.

Daily Photo – In the Imperial Hallways

I went over to Baihei Island in Beijing to visit some of the older parts and see what it looked like inside some of the temples. As you can imagine, everything was quite detailed and ornate. There was even some amazing food that was prepared for us by a chef at the restaurant there. And then, to my surprise, this richly decorated woman came out to serve it to us. As she was walking back through one of the old hallways, I asked her to stop for a second so I could take a photo.

And yes, this was taken with the Sony NEX-7. All of my new photos from China were taken with that camera…

I have an upcoming photo if the island itself in coming days… maybe even tomorrow! :)

Baihei Island

In the Imperial Hallways

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Old Streets of Beijing

Idea – Family Videos on YouTube, and a question for YouTube Experts!

So, I’ve taken to recording SO many videos of the family on my mobile (and now Glass too), and it’s great to share them privately with my family all over the world on YouTube. I used to burn DVDs every year around Christmas for the whole family using iMovie, but that’s kind of a pain. Now, the videos are nice and short, and there are a lot of them… uploading them all as “Unlisted” to YouTube then sharing the link seems to be pretty awesome. I’ve also taken all my old family videos DVDs and ripped them and uploaded them to YouTube. I feel good having a backup on the cloud. And, frankly, it’s often easier to go to YouTube rather than put in a DVD!

Question to YouTube Experts: So, I have made a playlist called “Family Videos” that contains about 60+ videos. All the videos are “unlisted” but I can’t figure out a way to make an “unlisted” playlist that I share with the family. The playlist is either “Private” or “Public”. If it’s private, then only I can see it, right? It says I can “share” the private playlist, but no one can see it until it is public, and I don’t want it public… so… what do I do?

I really want this private family playlist to work. That way, the family can just always check this playlist for the “latest” videos. Know what I mean? Otherwise, I have to send out an email every time I add a new short video to the playlist.

Nat Geo Traveler – project from a student

See this awesome magazine cover here? It was made by Dave Reily for one of his projects for school. This is one of the cool things about Creative Commons Noncommercial — I end up with tons of students all over the world that end up re-using my photos for art projects or school projects. You can see more from Dave and his project here on is FB page.

HDR Photo

Daily Photo – The Old Streets of Beijing

This street is very close to Tiananmen Square, Beijing. There is a lot of classical architecture and old stone buildings that line the road. There’s also an old streetcar that goes up and down the street. It’s all too good to be true, and is probably at least partially fake, but that’s okay with me. It seems barely authentic enough to seem passable.

I was looking for a place to stop for dinner with Tom Anderson, Priscilla Dorresteijn, and her boyfriend. We walked up and down this street several times, just taking our time and taking lots of photos. We actually had to hurry it up because restaurants close pretty early around here!

China Beijing

The Old Streets of Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time25
  • Aperture13
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length11.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1.7

Google Glass in Dystopian China

Glass in China

Found in the rubble of the polluted ruins...

What’s it like to wear Glass in China?

Beijing is more recently known for its crazy pollution (image links), so it was a real challenge shooting over the past week or so while I was there. It’s my fifth time to Beijing, and the pollution gets worse and worse every time. This means that shooting things far away is very difficult, because it gets fogged out like a video game that can only handle a few polygons at a time.

I was most interested in the reactions of people to Google Glass in China. I’ve noticed people’s reactions in a few places so far – In San Francisco, Toronto, Auckland, and now my hometown in Queenstown, New Zealand. For sure, people’s reactions in China were totally different. Now, of course this is all anecdotal, so you can hardly figure out a cultural trend-line from my observations, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Glass in China

Glass shot: When the sun sets in Beijing, sometimes you get a bit of this thing I call a smogbow.

Security Concerns

I was a bit paranoid to wear them through the airport, in customs, and near military or police. There was always a mild panic they would abscond with them and stick me in a white room with some sort of Chinese Agent Smith.

I did indeed have an “encounter” with a guy from the military very close to Tiananmen Square over by the National Theatre. I was taking photos with Tom and some local friends that worked at Google and another small startup. One of the security-military guys came up to me and was very interested! Mostly just sort of tech-fascinated, though, and curious. I didn’t sense any danger in the interaction, so I didn’t turn around and run. My goal in China was: “Don’t run from the military,” so I tried my best to meet that goal.

Glass in China

Glass shot: Shooting inside a beautiful glass room in the late afternoon...

Anyway, he got really close to the Glass and my friends helped me translate what he was asking. He was trying to figure out how it worked and was fascinated that you could get the internet to work on it. He then asked to try them on, and he loved them! He spent several minutes playing with the menus and even said, “Okay Glass, take a picture,” which it did (amazingly, even though his accent was rather thick!) While he was smiling the whole time, he was also trying to say a bunch of different things because he was mesmerized by the idea that you could talk to it! Everyone had a really good time and we were all laughing. For some reason, when he tried to speak English, he sounded exactly like Borat.

So that was my only interaction with the government-machine complex. Other than that, all my interactions were with the rest of the Chinese population.

Glass in China

Glass shot: Some of the least pollution was outside of the city. About two hours north of Beijing, I found this winery (!!) with this rather European-looking castle. A girl was walking to her wedding so I grabbed a quick shot.

How the citizenry of China reacted to Glass

First, let me tell you about the reaction from the more western world (SF, Toronto, Auckland, Queenstown) where I have a fairly consistent experience.

Whenever I am in public, people my age (I am 41) and younger are SUPER interested in the glass. Especially younger people. When I walk through the streets, I must get approached by a dozen (or sometimes, many many more) people per hour who say the following things (other Glass Explorers will probably agree with hearing these things): “Wow what is that thing?” “Whoa, is that Google Glass?” and “This is the first time I’ve ever seen it!” and “How much does it cost?” (man I get that one A LOT!) and “What does it look like?” and “What can you do with it?” and, well, the list just goes on and on.

The point is that people in the west are just so excited and mesmerized by it — they come up and engage and want to know more, try it, play with it, etc. Now, I do notice people a lot older than me are a bit more standoffish, unless they are really into geek culture. They look ponderously at me, clearly thinking, “What is happening to our world?” I had one older guy in the elevator at the Four Seasons shake his head dismissively and sigh, but that was the MOST negative reaction to about 1000+ people that have seen it.

Glass in China

Glass shot: I carried my tripod over my shoulder a lot. This is the angle that I see a lot of my day!

One group that seemed SUPER excited about it was black guys! Haha… I guess I could say African-Americans, but I saw several groups in Canada too, so I don’t even know what — is that African Canadian? Err… I’m not a journalist… so, I’ll just… dispense with all the labeling and let’s just say, err… well… groups of non-white-people that gathered on the street. This happened like eight times! They would get really excited and say things like, “Wow, that’s the Google Glass!!!!” “I gotta get me some of that!” “That looks TIGHT – how much is it!!” Haha it was great… I went over to talk to them all and they had so much fun with it. My guess is that more “white” people would have reacted like this too, but they are sometimes more reserved. Haha… man, I know… what a generalization, but I’m just telling you what happened to me.

So, let’s talk about China. Crickets. Man, they just would look at me curiously for a second and then turn their heads away. It was really interesting. Very few people came up to me, and they were usually younger (teens and twenties). But, mostly, they was just silent about it. I attribute some of it to not speaking English, but I think there was something larger going on.

It may be a combination of vestigial communist cultural reactions to strangers and general “out-of-the-box-shock” at seeing the Glass. Now, the Chinese are as technophilic as their Western counterparts. They are iPhone and iPad crazy! You go into any Starbucks, and upwardly mobile and middle-class people fill every seat and stare at their iPhones. Apple did a great job of marketing there, and the “lifestyle” of a high-end tech user is quite aspirational. It’s a wonderful sign of wealth and upward mobility, which is very important in their new money-driven culture.

Glass in China

Glass shot: A boy watches his girlfriend prancing and dancing in the street.

There is something still broken in the Chinese culture, I’m afraid. It’s the cultural idea of innovation and design. It does indeed exist in pockets (I met many people with tech startups, Google, Youku, and many other places that are mega-techy and doing awesome stuff) , but, generally, there is not a cultural “worship” of technology innovation like there is in the West. For that reason, I think we’ll continue to see the “bigger” ideas (that are well executed!) like Glass and others come from the West. I had lunch with Kevin Kelly, who spends even more time studying the Chinese culture. He recently visited several dorm rooms all over the country and saw that they had very few (or often, none) aspirations beyond making money. He said there were no posters on the wall, and when he asked them who their “heroes” are, they could not give any answers. It’s strange indeed, and may point to a larger cultural issue. I hope Kevin writes a book about it!

A Nice Glass Story from Beijing

This has nothing to do with the story above, except as a really cool use-case example of Glass.

At the airport, I got a local simcard so I could use the Chinese internet through Glass. I really had no problem at all! I could get maps, emails, send messages, and Google stuff via voice. One day, I was with Tom and we were driving by Tiananmen Square and there was a strange flag I could not recognize. So I said, exactly this (yes, it was a malformed question): “Okay Glass, Google What flag is it that has a gold lion on a red background and an orange stripe and a green stripe.” Immediately, it came back and said “Sri Lanka”! Wow! It even showed me a photo of the flag and visually brought up the Wikipedia entry on the Flag of Sri Lanka. Now, WHY the flag of Sri Lanka was hanging over Tienanmen Square was another question I did not ask. I figured that Sri Lanka probably just invaded overnight and had hoisted their flag to signal victory.

Photos with Glass from Beijing

I have a Glass gallery over on Google+ that I’m continuing to add new photos to. You’ll see several from China in there…

Glass in China

I've taken thousands of photos with Glass. Here are some of my favorites.

Camera Experiment in China

I know regular readers of the blog are waiting on the results of my China Experiment: Dumping Nikon for Sony. I’m working on that piece too… I should have it done in a week or so! In the meantime, you can probably see several of the Sony NEX shots in my stream on G+.

Daily Photo – Downtown Beijing After Rain

Just about the only time you get a break from the smog is after a good rain. I’m sure all that nonsense just ends up down on the ground and soaks slowly into the groundwater.

Anyhoo, this is the CBD (Central Business District) of Beijing. And yes, I took this with the Sony NEX-7. I’m working on that other piece I mentioned above and will put it up here soon!

Beijing China

Downtown Beijing After Rain

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time6
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Forbidden Wooden City

Free $50 Credit at Gelaskins – comment to win

Did you know Gelaskins is selling some of my work as skins for your phones/laptops/tablets? Cool! I want to give away a free $50 credit to a random commenter below. Luke will make a random selection and get back to you soon!

Daily Photo – The Forbidden Wooden City

How long did this full model of the Forbidden City take to build? Can you imagine doing something like this for a school project? And it seems so… flammable!

I took this photo inside the city planning museum in Beijing. Across the street in Tiananmen Square, there were tens of thousands of people, but this museum was totally empty. If you ever do visit one of these Chinese mega-cities, I think they all have these strange “City Planning” museums – they all are filled with really cool models like this.

Forbidden City Model

The Forbidden Wooden City

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time2
  • Aperture6.7
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length22.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

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